proposal is titled An exploration of Grime Culture Cardiff
The purpose of this research proposal is to investigate and examine how the
Grime community in Cardiff has been constructed. I will utilise fieldwork
techniques and employ the ethos of ethnography I help shape my research.
I intend to unveil key theoretical ideas such as Ethnicity, Space &
Place in order to show how these are interconnected to form a healthy Grime
community, where the main foundations of Grime culture are kept in tact.
My primary aim is to find out how a small Grime community like Cardiff
can survive alongside other music scenes in the UK. I also want to discuss the
history of the Grime on a national and local level and examine how there has
been a shift in the medias perception which has been a huge contribution to the
success of the scene.
My interest for the
subject is derived from being part of the scene in a media production sense as
well as being from a similar background to the subject’s I am researching.
The questions I’m
looking to answer is what in particular is unique to the Cardiff scene and why
has it not been given the same platforms as neighbouring cities. I’d like to
find out what can be done or what is being done to bring this area to a global
because it’s an overdue metaphor for our mixed-race society.
previous studies I have researched into, the role of the ethnographer usually
takes the stance of an ‘outsider’ coming in to a scene which they are not truly
(1997) analyisis says that music can communicate a potent sense of place and
culture, which is the central nature of British Gime, therefro should be added
to the ‘cocktail’ ethnographic methods.
ethnographic research and insight can be drawn from such music as one of Grimes
fundamentals is humany agency. Grime grants the listener an emic perspective,
it shares an insiders perception of cultures and social reality.
Ethnography is a
qaulitive research design, I will use it to help with the studie of Grime
culture (values, beliefs, behaviours, language).
Because this distinct
group has ben together for an extended period of time, I expected the subjects
I will be communicating with will have similar beliefs and attitudes.
Ethnography is the right
research design for this subject as Grime culture is a distinctive ethnographic form. This is due to the
cultural and spatial nature of grime music. It
is one of the few genuinely working-class music scenes to have emerged in
lot of time in the field is required to understand a certain culture, I am in a
unique position for this particular investigation, as I will enter my field not
just as a researcher but as an active member too, which will give a fresh
approach to my studies. I believe this will allow me to uncover certain
information which is genuine, as the participants of my research will be
comfortable enough to be open and honest with me.
important for me to immerse myself in my field notes, interview transpscripts,
etc to discover the major themes, specifically in relation to Cardiff’s Grime
used certain methodologies to help carry out my research. As the main focus of
my study is ethnography and representation, the method that is most appropriate
to use is qualitative research. Interviews with participants of the scene will
be vital to informing me of the current condition of the community.
will gather data from Online articles, scholars and journals and other relevant
literature. My primary research will include Observation through attending
grime events and interviewing a wide variety of people, this will play an
integral part in gaining access to people’s opinions and thoughts.
I adopted the practice of tuning in to Grime specific
shows and podcasts of BBC 1xtra in order to continue to develop familarity with
the genre. Alongside this I also watched past and present documentaries (Wot
you call it, Rise of Grime, Business Of Grime) which are readily available on
channels that have a youth culture agenda. These documentaries aloud me to
observe responses of artists that where unreachable for me to gain primary
As I am familiar with the scene and the interviewees,
aided me to respond to interviewee’s statements, which aloud the conversations
to flourish, allowing me to maintain detailed statements. Access to artists was
mainly obtained through mutual friends or social media.
The History of Grime
discuss the history of grime mainly in relation to London, its important to
know that strong comparisions can be made with other major cities, but I am
using London as the prime example as this was the initial hub of Grime music.
Grime is a genre of music that
emerged in London during the late 90’s, early
2000’s, derived from a hybrid of genres.
It originated in underground raves and pirate radio stations, these platforms
cemented an audience for Grime. The audience was expanded by online channel’s
such as ‘Risk Roads’ which enabled the scene to a establish a loyal fanbase.
Garage is seen as grime’s
main musical influences and many of Grimes original artists where part of this
scene but pushed out because of the different style and lyrical content. The
Grime artists felt Garage didn’t fit the type of music they wanted to create,
the scene was too optimistic and was not a true representation of there
It because of the honest and often vulgar
lyrics that Grime gained a negative reputation in the media. This had a
knock-on effect which such as mainstream radio stations didn’t want to play
there music, venues didn’t want to hold there gigs and other platforms didn’t
want to publicise there work.
Grime eventually started
to make its way to the mainstream as leading grime artists began to find there
own ways of publicising there music, such as through pirate radio, ‘lord of the
mic’s’ clashed which where filmed and distributed (dvd,online). This ened up
inspiring the culture and it was important for the scene and its artists to go
through these adversties, the organic growth and evolution has helped shaped
the scene by paving the way for the new generation of artists..
It is one of few genres that has been
successful overseas and yet is inherently British
Grime is often mistaken
or compared to British Hip – Hop, in fact some of the Grime scenes catalyst
musicians have crossed over into both genres at certain points of they’re
career in order to gain mainstream success.
There is a distinct
difference between grime and British Hip –Hop. British Hip – Hop originated
long before grime and is heavily influenced by American Hip – Hop culture,
artists used the same lyrical tenchiques and sounds as there American
counterparts, this was not popular and didn’t gain much success in Britain as
the artists tarnished there credibility as they were perceived to be copying
American MC’s. (Hip-Hop in
the UK History 1970–2012 (N.D)
Grime is different from
from Hip-Hop as it has a distinct Briish local sound, it specifically relates
to the place it is coming from and the communities.
Grime is now perceived
to be a more credible British genre because it originated out of other Black
British music genres, therefore it is more relatable for the British audience.
A key factor in Grime
was the shift in technology. Analogue formats such as vinyle records, tapes and
turntables were being made redundant by CD’s and MP3’s. Pirate radio stations
were once the main platform for urban music, digital channels such as Youtube
took over as the main outlet for unsigned underground talent.
strengthened by series of gigs, club nights, fairs and similar events where
fans converge, communicate, and reinforce their sense of belonging to a
particular scene…’ (Peterson and Bennett 2004, p. 11).
popularity of hip hop and the recent resurgence of grime, highlights the
importance and the role that these rap cultures play in contempary Britain.
When youth participate in subcultures in this instance Grime, they
develop a s sense of themselves, their place in the world, the city the inhabit
and also there relations with others(Bramwell). Rapping is important to the
production of urban living, the productive activity occurs in various sites
such as at home, youth clubs, schools, and the streets. Young people who are
able to aquire these linguistic skills and therefore distinguish themselves as
a rapper, allows them to achieve a certain level or social gratitude amongst
UK’s grime culture cannont be understood just in terms of the globalisation of
US hip-hop (Bennett 1999). The majority of rap scenes are able to trace their
routes through the Caribbean and Africa. Cardiff is a prime example of this as
it has a rich heritage in terms of migration from these particular countries.
occur when a solution to certain circumstances occur, usually in relation to parent
cultures (Hebdige (1979). As seen within grime,
the artists are often trying to break out of the boundaries there parent
cultures had to endure.
This can often been heard in there music,
interms of lyrical content as often rappers speak about suppression which is usually
in relation to parent cultures as it is less prominent these days. The delivery
of the words are also often in a homage to parent cultures also such as the use
Agency in UK grime youth subculture
New wave of Grime
recently had a global resurgence and is now a cultural phenomenon. The
cultural convergence with the mainstream industry such as working with brands,
perfomring at major festivals, sports events, tv shows and winning awards, has contributed greatly to
the success of the scene, it has put grime in a position where it could be
The media among others had a perception of Grime as being a violent and
aggressive style of music which had a bad influence on youth culture. There has
been a massive shift in terms of peoples opinions on the culture which I will
discuss in more detail, it is now perceived a the voice of British youth.
In the learly
2000’s, Due to Grimes reputation, many gigs where forced to be shut down. Grime was also dominated by youth, which
meant the industry often took advatange of the artists that where gaining some
success. The scene had still not realy taken of, many artists struggled to make
money therefor a lot of the main artists turned to creating more commercial
“It was difficult to make any money, especially in Cardiff. Although
full of quality, no artists had a chance. Nobody wants to listen to people from
Wales, which meant we all gave up.”
A few years ago London artists Skepta
and his brother JME released a nostalgic song and video ‘That’s not me’ which represented what grime use to me. The song
even won a MOBO award for best video, Skepta in his acceptance speech said “If
theres one award I wanted to win, its this one for this video, because coming
from the streets you feel you need to keep up with other peoples expensive
videos, ‘that’s not me video cost me 80 english pounds”
The new wave of grime has gone back to
its roots and Grime is now cultural pheneomanon and Cardiff is on the
The Astroid Boys collective have a
decent fanbase in Cardiff and Europe, there hybrid grungy rock music merged
with typical grime beats and Welsh Mc’ing accents has been a catalyst to there
success. They are a prime example of the development of Grime
Deullux the main producer says. ” Wiley
and Skepta are like the founding fathers of the scene, they’ve released new
singles that take grime back to its original sound. It like they’ve said to the
industry… You made us more Americanised and changed our outlook on music, we are
taking our creativity back.”
As Grime is now supported by the music
industry it continues to break boundaries
The initial problems faced in its first
stages are no longer present and the artists in Cardiff can see that.
middle class audience
Cardiff’s Grime Culture
Lyrical content – Cardiff
accent (Camron interview)
initial question you would ask when talking about grime in Cardiff, is why
here?. Then when you begin the deconstruct the fundamentals of Grime culture and the historical discourses of which it
draws its influence you realise Cardiff’s inner city is the perfect environment
for a Grime scene to develop
Perfect environment and
culture to develop a grime scene, historical influences, inner city. Regional Identity,
Music Platforms. Relatable
Urban music history Cardiff
When it comes UK Grime culture your initial thought wouldn’t be Cardiff.
As the British urban genres continue to have widespread success on an
international level, there is now a genuine focus on the scenes growing within
the communities of other cities.
A niche yet passionate UK rap and grime scene is manifesting in Wales
capital city, producing artists who are more than capable of attracting and
retaining huge fan base’s,
Before the latest resurgence of rap culture within Wales, you would have
to go back ten years to find a welsh rappers presence in the charts, Goldie Lookin’
Chain known for there satirical lyrics, debatably affected the welsh rap scene
in a bad way, giving the overall perception that Welsh urban music was just a
“New York music
influenced London, in the same way people in Cardiff are influenced by what is
coming out of London. We’ve got to a point where it’s evolved so much that we’ve
got our own scene, style, slang and everything,” says Traxx.
and development is the most important aspect of a youth culture. The success of
the current scene is due to Cardiff finding its own identity as well as drawing
influences from other cultures and music scenes.
whilst they may be the anomaly, a lot of Cardiff’s MCs and producers don’t
currently have the attention needed.
“Im not saying
that the local promoters don’t support the scenes, I just think most local MCs
are not at that level where they can actually draw a decent crowd,” Dellux
difficult to achieve a thriving music scene as it’s a big risk for a promoter
to back local unkown artists.
had a period of artists unable to get a chance at performing to big crowds, but
Cardiff’s Grime scene is in its infancy and its these types of occurances that
will benefit the artists in the long term. They learn to understand that its
their duty to build the hype and to give quality performances to retain an
“having elements of rap and rock in our music means we can play to a
diverse audience, it would be mad to win a mobo and a kerrang award”
“So much about grime is about posturing, lyrical content talking about
big cars and women, we break those boundaries, like in our latest video we had
a Mondeo estate, that’s actually the car that gets us about”
Spotlight First Interview:
London is the hub of music, is it difficult as an artist outside of
“it’s a blessing in a sense, we bring something different to the table,
we don’t have the same influences as people in London, they all seem to have
the same style”
“Straight out of Cardiff” Documentary:
Mr Traumatik, 32 a veteran MC, earned a cosigned by Birminghams Devilman
says that grime that is coming out of places outside of London shoudltn be
considered as ‘other’. ” If we continue to segregate it could possibly be
detrimental to the culture and its growth”. He also exsplains how there is a
lack of support from promoters and local radio stations, but because of the
internet it is not a major issue at it allows you reach all corners of the
world, meaning you can still make a living without the backing of your home
One act from Cardiff
have been doing well for some time. The Astroid Boys are by far the biggest and
most established name in Cardiff, formed I 2012, merge a hybrid of genres into
their music. In a recent interview with Radio 4, Traxx the bands frontman
talked about how the multi-culturalism with Wales inspired them to mix both
Welsh slang and potois into there lyrical content
There hybrid sound has
Traxx says that the band
aren’t looking for validation from flag pole acts within the grime scene. “Grime
originated in London, yes, that doesn’t mean we need them to tell us wether
we’re good or not, we don’t need validation”
There seems to be a
small town mentality in Cardiff, artists don’t seem to back eachother.
It seems to me that
Cardiff is undergoing the same issues as the London scene did 5-10 years ago, bad
perception not being considered serouisly, but are learning from other
mistakes, the understand the need for originality, represent regional identity,
creating your own hype, collaboration,experimentation, grimes core values.
Recently been signed to one of sony’s record labels
Benji “Watch and learn is me putting my chini out and saying come on
lets do it, ill jump first”
Music Opportunities & Bringing
it to the Mainstream
still many opportunities for arising local artists. Cardiff has a ever growing
student population of which the clubs naturally caters to. Dellux a producer
part of the Astroid Boys collective exsplains “The drum & bass scene is the
dominant one mainly because of the students, when it comes to grime, only big
artists like Stormzy and Wiley draw big crowds”
clubs nights, such as Aperture is one of the prominent venues for these urban
sounds. ‘Squeeze’ a brand new gig night which is held in local warehouse
(Cardiff Speaker Hire), is much more grime specific, the best of local talent
perform aswell as more known artitsts and it seems to be gathering more
momemtum at each event as more and more young people are shifting there
interests towards this type of music. An artists can use this platform as a
means of netowkring and a path way to recognition. I
future of grime on a national level is filled with opportunities, this is no
different in Cardiff.
with the current urban music landscape, the support of music platforms and the
UK’s ever changing identity. The venues, promoters and other participants have
the chance to utilise the buzz and interest that this scene is generating. The
scene needs to be supported consistently for it to really take off on the
the artists will need to continue to have a hustler mentality from the bottom
up, if Cardiff intends to establish itself within the UK scene
boys bring other aritsts along as support and collaboration
Grime is really hard to define, it is a genre of music
(140bpm), but is also a lifestyle and culture, food, slang, fashion, same
motives, hanging on the block. People relate It to rap but I believe it is more
similar to dancehall, its all about the energy. Each city has its key
influences, in south they are heavily influenced by Chicago drill music, In
west is more garage influenced, in north skepta is more influenced, spaced out
instrumentals, south the home of grime, wiley, clangy sounds, traditional
grime. When looking at the main act from Cardiff, rock music has heavily
influenced this band. It important for Cardiff to find its own sound.. (aj
tracey, mass appeal)
Brand affiliation – Time for
Cardiff need to build on
there own culture, values and use there own spaaces to be unique and therefor
Find there own identity
Authenticity and core